Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal statute (or law) that has a broad set of rules concerning telephone calls and fax broadcasting. Congress in 1991 enacted the TCPA to address certain telemarketing and other invasion of consumer privacy issues. The protection is geared towards unwanted calls to cell or mobile phones but also covers certain calls to your residential land line.
The TCPA provides that:
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States- (A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice- …. (iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call; (B) to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party, unless the call is initiated for emergency purposes or is exempted by rule or order by the Commission under paragraph (2)(B); (C) to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine; or (D) to use an automatic telephone dialing system in such a way that two or more telephone lines of a multi-line business are engaged simultaneously. Under the TCPA, those sending fax messages or transmitting artificial or prerecorded voice messages are subject to certain identification requirements. The statute also provides consumers with several options to enforce the restrictions on unsolicited telemarketing, including a private right of action.
You may ask, what in the world does that mean to me? If you are getting unwanted calls to your cell phone you may have a claim for violation of the TCPA. Each unlawful call may entitle you to money damages. You may be entailed to $500 per call and the court, in its discretion, may triple your damages to $1500 per call. If you are getting artificial or prerecorded voice calls to your residential line, you may be entitled to the same or similar money damages.
We see a number of cases in which a consumer gets a new telephone number and then begins receiving collection calls for the previous owner of that number. The consumer with the new number may receive up to three or 4 calls a day. However, despite telling the collection agency they have the wrong number, the calls continue. If this is happening to you, the best thing you can do is keep a log of the calls and contact our office for help. Make sure you also ask for the name of the company who is calling you and write down every phone number. Any other information, such as person’s name, company headquarters, websites, etc. can go a long way in helping us track down a lawsuit.
If you had a prior business relationship with a company and now wish to terminate the telephone calls, you should inform the caller that you wish to be removed from their calling list and placed on the company’s do-not-call list. Every company is required to keep an internal do-not-call list that is in addition to the national do-not-call list. Make a note of who you spoke too and the date and time of your request. You may also send a letter to the business informing them that you wish to remove your telephone number from their calling list. Don’t forget to provide them the number you wish to add to the list. You can send the letter via regular first class U.S. mail, but we recommend getting a proof of mailing from the post office at a cost of approximately $1.00. This will serve as proof that you mailed the letter.
Please contact our office with questions about the TCPA. If you are receiving unwanted calls then we may be able to help.